My Child’s Using. Now What?By
Jeffrey Jannarone is a retired Sergeant with a New Jersey State Law Enforcement Agency. Mr. Jannarone is on numerous alcohol and drug committees, and is currently working as a private consultant in both criminal and civil matters involving alcohol and other dangerous drugs. For any additional information feel free to contact this author by email at JPJANNARON@AOL.COM.
Every parent has a fear of discovering that their child is in danger. Our creator provided each of us with five major senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. But the most important sense, for parents anyway, is the easiest to ignore. I’m talking about the sixth sense.
The sixth sense has difficulty in pinpointing exactly what is going on. I explain it as the sense that uses some, or all, of the major five senses together, in order to identify something that these individual senses could not detect or explain by themselves. The sixth sense is that “Gut” feeling that something is very wrong. So please learn to utilize it, someone’s life may depend on it.
So how did you come to suspect something is wrong with your child? Usually, this is easy to answer. They are acting “abnormally.” But what is abnormal? Well, technically, ANYTHING that is not normal for your child is abnormal. Perhaps this abnormality is a change in eating habit, a change in friends, depression, hyperactivity, or a wide range of other behaviors. Does this mean your child is using a dangerous substance? Not necessarily. But it is an indication to look deeper. As with heart disease and skin cancer, early detection is the key to curing substance abuse. Don’t let your suspicions go unaddressed.
So what does one do to get help? For starters, don’t follow the crowd. Most people begin gathering advice from friends and acquaintances. This can be a waste of precious time, as most of this advice is opinion based. Many intelligent and well intentioned people are grossly overconfident in their understanding of substance abuse issues. As with most important things in life, the tempting “common sense” approach will create more problems than solutions. Fortunately there are several agencies that can play an integral role in your qualified education, and family assistance. These agencies vary in their scope of assistance, but in totality they all are here to help.
One of the best resources is usually the least tapped for help; Local Law Enforcement. Local law enforcement can provide valuable information about drug and alcohol trends in your community. Trends can vary wildly, even if the towns border one another. Local law enforcement typically is in touch with your local realities since they respond to domestic calls for assistance, break up parties, and make arrests of users and dealers. I always suggest reaching out to a friendly and informed local police officer for information; this may help you identify what your sixth sense is telling you. Moreover, if the police can show you what the abused substances look like, you may have already seen them in your home and not even realized their use!
OK, I understand one’s apprehension to use law enforcement. “What if they arrest my child?” ask many desperate parents. In my career I have never met a parent that truly wanted to harm their child, and an arrest is probably your last wish. But let not your heart be troubled. Kids under the age of 18 aren’t “arrested”, they are “treated”. The punitive arm of the juvenile justice system is reserved for repeat and/or violent criminals. Conversely, substance abusers are looked upon as patients in need of assistance and guidance. The juvenile justice system can provide you with the structure and resources you need to get a handle on your child. Plus, it allows you to join forces with local law enforcement, and hopefully erect that safety net around your struggling kid.
So who else can you utilize if you need help? Well, Monmouth and Ocean County, N.J. -where I have my practice- have some of the best substance abuse assistance in New Jersey. Many other states will have similar resources. The three in this area that readily come to mind are: the New Jersey Prevention Network, Prevention First, and Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Council of Ocean.
About NJPN (New Jersey Prevention Network):
NJPN is an incorporated organization composed of 19 independent, non-profit corporations with offices in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. NJPN ensures that member agencies have high quality standards as part of a connected system of professional services for the prevention of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse and other related issues. Our staff works with Municipal Alliances, schools, DARE officers, family court, mental health agencies, local governments and many other constituent groups in each county.
All NJPN member agencies offer programs and services that have a common goal of reducing the incidence and prevalence of alcoholism, addiction and related problems through primary prevention efforts. The network refers those needing and requesting help for their own or another individual’s problems related to use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to an appropriate established organization or center that most closely meets their needs. Each NJPN member agency also operates a resource center that provides information and resources to professionals and residents in their county.
Contact: New Jersey Prevention Network 150 Airport Road, Suite 1400 Lakewood, New Jersey 08701 732-367-0611 or 866-FOR-NJPN E-Mail: email@example.com
About Prevention First:
Prevention First is a non-profit agency dedicated to strengthening the foundations of children and families by empowering them to successfully handle difficult, everyday life situations and extraordinary challenges such as violence and substance abuse. They are committed to improving the lives of children so they can thrive and grow to be strong, responsible individuals in any community. Prevention First is an advocate for change, a provider for substance abuse and violence education, and a proponent of healthy lifestyles. They work to minimize the incidence and impact of substance abuse and to counterbalance its negative impact on society. Prevention First also provides high quality programs that equip children with fundamental tools to help them make the right choices throughout their childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.
Contact: Prevention First
1405 Highway 35
Ocean, New Jersey 07712
Phone 732 663 1800
Fax 732 663 1698
About Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Council of Ocean (ADACO)
ADACO is a private non-profit corporation whose primary mission is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of alcoholism, and other drug related problems. ADACO encourages primary prevention, early intervention and effective treatment of alcoholism and other drug addictions. ADACO also identifies areas of need and important issues in the community, while providing quality programs and promotional activities that raise public understanding and recognition of addiction. They also offer bilingual services. In addition to acting as a public advocate and source of information and education, ADACO provides consultation and treatment referral services for those directly affected by, or involved with, individuals experiencing problems relating to alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse and other addictive behaviors.
Contact: Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Council of Ocean, Inc.
1195 Route 70, Suite 2010
Lakewood, NJ 08701
Phone (732) 367-5515 Fax: (732) 367-0975
Office Hours: Monday through Thursday 9-5, Friday 8-4
Counseling Center 1064 South Main St., (Route 9) Suite 2B West Creek, NJ 08092 Phone (609) 597-9601 Fax (609) 978-0874
As a former police officer I have experienced many families in need. I hope this article is useful to you or perhaps someone you know who is going through a family hardship. The most important things to realize are; to get an education for yourself from a reputable source, learn how to help yourself along with your family, and learn how to take effective action. The above sources can provide all of those needs for you and your family. I hope you never need to use these skills, but if that need arises you will be prepared to take the appropriate actions needed.
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